Tell it to the Dogs

Bonnie Auslander, the director of the Kogod Center for Business Communications, shares her technique of having speakers practice in front of dogs to help them cope with their performance anxiety in an article for the New York Times.

It’s an entertaining idea but does it offer any real value?

Three Conditions Behind Speech Fright

As I explain in Understanding Stage Fright, performance anxiety occurs when three conditions are at play (see my page on ).

  1. You perform, speak, or compete in front of some type of audience.
  2. The audience judges you in some way, or you at least feel it’s judging you.
  3. The judgement constitutes some sort of threat.

Speaking in front of dogs doesn’t involve the second and third of these conditions. How does that help when you’re facing all three? It’s hard to believe that it does in any meaningful way, and Auslander doesn’t offer anything more than a bit of anecdotal evidence that it does.

It’s hard to believe that it does in any meaningful way, and Auslander doesn’t offer anything more than a bit of anecdotal evidence that it does.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big believer in dog therapy, both the formal and informal variety. Our family dogs, Noodles and Lizzy, give us plenty of it. There just seems to be a major piece missing in Auslander’s approach.

Click here to read the original New York Times article.


What do you think? Do you see any value in dogs helping speakers overcome performance anxiety?

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